Highworth Town 3-2 Moreton Rangers
By Mike Markham
Worthians just make it!
After picking up a good three points midweek, the Reserves hosted table topping Moreton Rangers at home in what was sure to be a real test.
After losing Jonah Beer just before kick-off, called up to the first team, it needed a quick re-think for the management trio.
Highworth started the game brightly and got a boost after only just two minutes when a Harry Ayres cross was headed home at the far post by Gareff Roque, to give the Worthians a perfect start.
The match was a very tight affair with neither side really creating too many clear cut chances.
Moreton had several shots from distance that either missed the target or where comfortably held by Simon Randlesome in goal.
With captain, Liam Haines and assistant manger Ross Adams dominating the Moreton forwards, the visitors struggled to create anything significant.
With 33 minutes on the clock, some great one touch football between Jordan Clark, Jamie Sheppard and Dan Grieve resulted in Grieve dancing round the keeper to coolly finish for 2-0.
Indeed only minutes later it could have been 3 when Billy Aldrich set Roque away down the left to beat the full back and cross just too far in front of the outstretched leg of Grieve. Nevertheless, the boys went in at half-time with a 2-0 lead.
The half-time team talk from the managers was on how only half the job was done and we needed to compete for the full 90 minutes if we were to get anything from the game, knowing the league leaders would really come out at us in the second half.
Moreton started the second half in good fashion with their direct football, and with the wind now behind them, put Highworth under real pressure.
The boys defended resiliently but after a succession of corners, Moreton pulled a goal back as their centre half fired in from 8 yards to make it 2-1.
It was a bit squeaky bum time at the back for Highworth for the next few minutes and Moreton hit the bar with another effort from range.
Manager Chris Ayres then mate a couple of changes to get some fresh legs on and try and take the sting out of the Moreton pressure, with Wilkins and Stagg replacing Roque and Sheppard.
It seemed to work the oracle as the fresh legs gave us the lift we needed and Max Slinn and Tom Steele began to control the midfield more as we began to get back to our stride.
With 73 minutes gone, Grieve was set free again only to fire over the bar as the keeper advanced.
Now with the game in more even flow it was a case of who would get the next goal and on 81 minutes, Highworth made it 3-1 after Clark was fouled in the box. He himself got up to fire the penalty past the Moreton keeper for 3-1.
This wasn’t the end of the scoring though, credit to Moreton as they never gave up and pulled one back deep into injury time with a fine shot from a narrow angle for 3-2.
However there wasn’t enough time for them to get another and the Worthians held on for a hard-earned but well deserved victory. Credit to the lads who were fantastic each and every single one of them!